Staff Shortage Will Affect September K-12 Bus Routes
RPS 205 Families,
We need to share an update about our transportation plans for the upcoming school year.
Rockford is affected by the local, state and nationwide worker shortage, and it’s especially affecting our ability to recruit bus drivers and transportation staff. At this time, we do not have enough bus drivers to support every route that our K-12 students need when school starts Sept. 2.
We are planning to provide transportation to 148 of 160 planned bus routes each day. Every day, some bus routes will not be provided. The affected bus routes will rotate among our schools, so once every two weeks, the same group of students will not receive a bus. This breaks down to be about two days each month that our students will need alternative transportation to and from school, because an RPS 205 bus driver is not available.
Affected bus routes are listed on our website for Thursday, Sept. 2 and Friday, Sept. 3. Please look closely at your school’s bus route. For example, it’s possible students could have a driver in the morning but not after school. We’ll post the rest of the month of September as soon as possible.
We hope that families work together with their school and community support systems to cover those days. Schools will provide extended drop-off and pick-up windows for families when regular busing won’t be provided.
We hope this situation is temporary. We have a schedule planned for the month of September. We are optimistic that the latest incentive programs and signing bonuses for new drivers will help us hire and train enough staff to cover our bus routes in the coming months.
New bus driver incentives: RPS 205 is offering bus drivers starting pay at $15.30 an hour and full benefits, plus a $3,000 signing bonus. For an applicant who has bus driving experience and is already trained, that bonus is $4,000. New hires can also receive a $150 attendance bonus every pay period for a total of $3,300 a year. Learn more and apply: rps205.com/careers/support
After-school programs & athletics: This driver shortage will also affect our after-school activity buses and athletic buses. Some activity buses will not be available; those dates and routes are listed in the transportation calendar. For athletics, transportation will be provided after 4:30 p.m., when our regular school routes have ended for the day. High school coaches and athletic directors will work together to plan for alternative transportation when possible.
Rockford Mass Transit Passes: RPS 205 will provide bus passes for students who attend Summit Academy through the Regional Office of Education.
How you can help: Families with students who do not need transportation should contact the Transportation Department to be removed from a bus route. Bus seating is limited, and space should be reserved for families who need the service.
Email: BUS@rps205.com | Call: 815-966-3705
To be clear, we don’t like this plan. At this time, we don’t have a better solution. We want to provide transportation to all students who need it – and we want more than anything to have a successful, strong start to the school year.
We will continue to share updates and push reminders to families as they are affected each week by the bus driver shortage. Thank you for your cooperation and support.
Mike Slife, RPS 205 Executive Director of Transportation & Mike Phillips, RPS 205 Chief Operations Officer
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